LAL MASJID, PAKISTAN, Iraq, Afghanistan – They’re all the same?!

By Andrusha Wickremeratne (Hebden Bridge) – Commenting on General Musharraf’s decision to send troops into the Lal Masjid mosque, thereby precipitating in a bloodbath, last week’s ITN 10.30 news broadcast thus, with due gravitas and much arm waving covered the following:“……. the danger is that, like its neighbour Afghanistan, and Iraq, this could descend into something much worse than this isolated incident…….”

According to this journalist, Pakistan could descend into anarchy. So that’s it. No need for history or context, or reasons of what makes people act the way they do. It’s all the same. Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan. It’s all the same.

Sadly this lumpen, lazy, ahistorical and clichéd journalism is all too typical of reporting in print and broadcast media. A listener or viewer is left with the impression that these are all one and the same people prone to irrational behaviour and live in a messy part of the world. It is a kind of reporting bereft of unique histories, sociologies, geographies and politics.

Editorial constraints notwithstanding, there are a few interrelated aspects to this type of journalism. Firstly, the journalist simply does not know enough about the area or subject he or she is reporting on, but nevertheless is fairly confident that we, the viewing, or listening, or reading public know even less, and so feels ok to draw spurious parallels and contours between one region and another, when none in fact exist.

This in itself is not such a bad thing. But the consequences of this are that the viewing public remain critically misinformed, sated as they are with why Shabnam was evicted from the Big Brother House. They are therefore ignorant of Western policy decisions, the results of which return to haunt us, sometimes horrifically so, on our own doorstep.

So the Pakistani people’s reaction to Musharraf’s actions are seen as one and the same; a reaction that, according to this journalist, risks the country being hurtled towards anarchy. Never mind that this is a country of a 168 million diverse people with different needs, aspirations and motivations. And this in turn has some connection to the hopelessness that is Afghanistan, which is itself related to people’s reaction to the chaos and death of Iraq.

So who is this homogenous mass? In the eyes and ears of a vast section of the population, they are, in the main, Muslims; a hot headed, brown skinned group of people living in dodgy areas of the world and prone to acts of violence.

All the better then for the correcting hand of benevolent British and American armies, bombs and multinationals.

Andrusha Wickremeratne is a freelance writer, independant Political analyst and a speaker at local events and media Outlets covering local, national and Internatioanl events. He is a regular guest speaker on Islam Radio’s Current Affairs show (BRADFORD) and has made appearnaces on Crescent radio (ROCHDALE). He currently lives in Hebden Bridge and works in Rochdale with the local community as an Adult tutor.


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